Ameriflight, the largest existing Part 135 cargo airline, has entered the era of drone operations after receiving approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
This approval allows Ameriflight to conduct drone operations under its current Part 119 Air Carrier Certificate for Part 135 operations.
As part of this milestone, Ameriflight has also gained approval to add the Matternet M2 drone, a large-scale drone, to its fleet — enabling the company to launch a comprehensive drone operation.
Ameriflight said it plans to utilize the Matternet M2 drone for commercial cargo, with a focus on delivering healthcare and e-commerce products to customers in densely populated urban and suburban areas across the United States.
To facilitate its drone operations, Ameriflight will leverage Matternet's software platform from a central remote Network Operations Center. This approach allows for network expansion while maintaining a high level of pilot operator supervision and flexibility.
It is worth noting that Ameriflight considers unmanned aircraft to be a complement rather than a replacement for its human pilots.
The company emphasizes the addition of this advanced and environmentally friendly aircraft as a means to expand its service offerings to time-sensitive small package needs in off-airport alternative sites.
"Adding this state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly aircraft and launching our unmanned aircraft division allows us to expand our service offerings to off-airport alternative sites for time-sensitive small package needs," said Alan Rusinowitz, president and chief executive of Ameriflight.
He added that Matternet's technology is at the forefront of autonomous innovation and provides a revolutionary solution for customers.
"We're looking forward to launching our first M2 flights very soon and, as we move forward into the future flight, developing additional areas of drone delivery," Rusinowitz further said.
Meanwhile, Ameriflight owner and chairman Jim Martell said the newly operative UAS division allows the company to expand into a "largely untapped delivery market" with a lot of room for speed and safety logistic improvements.
Matternet co-founder and chief executive Andreas Raptopoulos, for his part, this partnership enables Matternet to offer our customers "turnkey access to fast and reliable on-demand delivery capabilities today."
"This is not a test program or a future deployment concept — this is the real, scalable, and safe drone-based solution that customers are looking for," Raptopoulos said.